November 19, 2013 Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 6:22 PM EST
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) -- They are sleek, they are sexy, and they may be bad for you. Heels are all the rage among the fashion conscious, but wearing those six-inch heels can have unintended consequences.
“You feel a little more feminine, you feel a little more confident,” said Kelly Pautler, who owns a closet full of high heels.
“You add a little height, you look a little thinner,” said Podiatrist Dr. Lynn Stafford of Aboite Podiatry.
“They’re fun and sexy!” said Lisa McDavid, who’s a self-proclaimed high heel lover.
High heels are something that many women who wear them would consider to be their guilty pleasure.
“I’ve spent $10 on a pair of shoes, and I’ve spent a lot more on a pair of shoes,” said Pautler. However, she wouldn’t disclose how much she spent on her most expensive pair of shoes.
“Oh golly!” she said. “I would rather not even say.”
“I probably could’ve purchased a really nice— I like photography—a really nice camera,” admitted McDavid.
But these pricey pumps can have costly effects. “Oh it’s wonderful for my business!” said Dr. Stafford.
Dr. Lynn Stafford is a Fort Wayne podiatrist who knows heels and feet perhaps better than her male counterparts – because she also wears them—in moderation, of course!
“The long term effects are irreversible. That doesn’t mean you can’t wear high heels, I wear them, but it’s knowing when to wear them,” she said.
In recent years, high heels have exploded in popularity. Not only have the designs gotten more creative and exciting…but the heels have gotten higher.
Lisa, “Sometimes they’re un-walkable…I don’t know if that’s a word,” laughed McDavid.
“It takes a little work to wear heels, you know, to not fall on your face everyday,” said Pautler jokingly.
Work or play, the fashion world has now deemed high heels to be an essential part of every modern woman’s wardrobe.
Attorney Kelly Pautler ranks her love for high heels at an eight on a scale of one to 10. “I think adding three or four inches makes my clothes fit better, I look better, I stand a little taller. I stand a little straighter. I walk a little bit more proud,” she said.
Singer and factory worker Lisa McDavid says she’s a 10. “[I like] The different styles and colors, and textures and lights. I’m into comfort, sometimes, but definitely unique.” McDavid paused after she said “comfort” and laughed saying that calling heels comfortable can be considered an oxymoron.
Dr. Stafford says women shouldn’t be so eager to break their necks—or ankles—when it comes to heels.
“The higher the heel, the more unstable the foot becomes, and it changes the posture,” she said. “The ideal heel height, believe it or not, is that of a cowboy boot. That’s approximately an inch.”
In fact, there’s a laundry list of problems that can be caused from high heels.
“Ankle sprain strains, fat pad atrophy, fungus in the nails once again…neuromas, hammer toes, bunionettes, which is the opposite of bunions. Bunions are on the inside, bunionettes are on the outside of the foot, ligament tears in the knee,” said Dr. Stafford. And of course, back problems.
But despite Dr. Stafford’s warning, McDavid and Pautler say they still find heels compelling.
“I’m not scared of it, but I probably should be,” admitted Pautler.
Lisa, “I don’t pay attention to them,” said McDavid.
When asked if they’ll ever stop wearing heels, “Nooooo! No, I don’t think so,” said McDavid passionately. “Because I like them too much!”
“Right now, no. It’s not happening!" said Pautler while shaking her head.
Dr. Stafford says it’s the drop in the arch of the heel that makes the difference. She says the steeper the arch, the more pressure is put on the ball of the foot, making it more uncomfortable and able to throw off your balance.
Another thing to consider is the platform, which Dr. Stafford says can be more comfortable than a thinner sole because there is more padding under the ball of the foot. Dr. Stafford says the platform is also what contributes to the illusion of a higher heel.
But if women must wear them, Dr. Stafford says the worst thing a woman can do is wear them all day. She recommends wearing heels for only a few hours at a time, or switching heel heights around from day to day.
Dr. Stafford says doing that should be a good fit for keeping the balance between being stylish and healthy.